The rollercoaster for San Antonio. Successively beaten by Toronto, Indiana, New York, Minnesota, Miami, OKC and Sacramento during their last seven outings, the Spurs suffered the law of the Grizzlies (108-120) of Jaren Jackson Jr (27 pts) and Desmond Bane (26 pts) Saturday, at the Frost Bank Center. And this even though they led by 19 points in the first period... Their guilty pleasure at the start of the season. San Antonio's last success dates back to November 2, in Phoenix (132-121). Three wins, ten losses. Worrying, especially given the program that awaits the Texans and when we know that this is only the third victory of the season for Memphis (3v-9d), deprived of Xavier Tillman Sr., Marcus Smart, Brandon Clarke and Luke Kennard, without forgetting Steven Adams, out for the season, and Ja Morant, suspended.
Author of 27 points on Friday, Victor Wembanyama started well. He then experienced a big gap in terms of skill at the start of the second period before being hampered by fouls. His defensive impact was not enough. He still finished with 19 points, 6/17 on shots (2/6 at 3 pts), 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 interception in 31 minutes, with a /- at -6. The 19-year-old French international (4 selections) also and above all made 8 blocks. New personal best for him who had never done more than five until now. Top scorer for this San Antonio team which once again had to do without Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, author of 22 points.
The start was more pleasant than what we could have feared before this duel of dunces, and to the advantage of the locals (23-13), with a “Wemby” who did not force anything and scored a good three points in the first intention, a rebound, a pass and a bonus block in five minutes, during his first visit. Relaunched at the end of the first quarter, he came up against Kenneth Lofton, 26 centimeters shorter but 30 kilos heavier. They had already crossed paths in the final of the U19 World Cup won by Team USA in 2021 (35-26 at the end of the 1st QT). Rebound, block, interception, bright pass, another increase... Wembanyama in the oven and at the mill at the start of the second quarter, also causing the third foul from Jackson Jr, co-top scorer of his team at that moment with 10 points (43- 31). The five Memphis starters all had at least two fouls. Easy “SA” (59-42). In the second evening of a “back-to-back”, “Pop” quickly opened his rotations and his replacements did it well: 22 points from the bench at half-time (63-44, then 68-51 MT) .
“Wemby” started the second half by scoring at the circle, almost without jumping. Size, the gift given by the basketball gods to the Frenchman, who also used it in defense, between counterattacks and deterrence. No address in isolation, however. With Wembanyama on the bench, Johnson took responsibility, but San Antonio lost its basketball – as so often – and saw the Grizzlies fall back below 10 points in the last minute of the third quarter (94-87). Everything to redo. Jackson Jr was doing a hell of a job at the start of the fourth and the Spurs were being rained down with fouls, including “Wemby”, his fourth. He returned to the bench. Fifth for Collins.
The return of Wembanyama did not change the dynamic, nor did Bane's fifth foul: 18-0 for the Grizzlies against the amorphous Spurs (99-93, then 99-111)! As a symbol, Jackson Jr countered “Wemby” at the circle in this run. A bit of madness with Jones and Sochan (103-111), but a lot more would have been needed. Wembanyama took his fifth foul (103-113) before delivering his seventh against, then the eighth. He brought his team to -6 (108-114) two minutes from the end, but San Antonio made too many errors to believe it, like Collins' loss of the ball and this unsteady rebound from the native of Chesnay (108-120 final score). To be continued next week for the Spurs, (very) heavy, with two matches at home against the Clippers (Monday and Wednesday), then two trips against the last two champions, Golden State (Friday) and Denver (Sunday).